Cast Out Thieves to Heal the Blind and Lame, Part II

   I. When Prayer Gets Lost in the Shuffle


In Jesus’ day, thieves ruled in God’s house.

Prayer got lost in the shuffle like a mouse.


“It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves,” Jesus said as he overthrew the merchandisers’ tables (Matthew 21:12-13).


Did they see it coming, I wonder? Or were they too busy selling stuff to notice their blunder? Had “business as usual” blinded their eyes to the needs of the physically blind?  Perhaps the reason they lacked sympathy for the lame in body was due to the holes in their lame souls. They had no true walk with God, and it showed in the way they treated others.


The crowd, confused and scattered, couldn’t find their way.

They sacrificed large sums of money to hear men say,

“It’s not enough. You must do more to please the Lord,”

But it was more than any of them could afford.


The blind and lame, they longed for peace,

Joy in their hearts, a sweet release

But found no place inside their “church,”

Which had left them in the lurch.


The crowd was wandering like sheep with no shepherd, and the blind and lame had to fend for themselves. Why is that?


     II. Religious or Righteous?


Well, do you remember the story in I Samuel chapter 13 where King Saul prepared to wage war against the Philistines? God’s prophet Samuel had arranged to meet with Saul prior to the battle so he could offer the sacrifice, causing God’s favor to shine down on them. He ordered Saul to wait until he arrived before proceeding, but Samuel was running late and Saul grew impatient.


There seemed to be some fear involved, for when Saul saw his army scattering, he took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offering himself. Like Cain, he went against the grain of what God told him to do and attempted through the fruit of his own efforts to bring a pleasing sacrifice to God.


It’s like the leader whose words imply, “Please us,”

Instead of, “Trust fully in Jesus.”


Saul’s actions were religious but not righteous, for he didn’t seem to understand the meaning behind the sacrifice.

Prayer got lost in the shuffle.


Religious men who lack a true relationship with God see no problem substituting their own procedures for God’s perfect will. As a result, their “flocks” scatter. The “sheep,” abused, become confused and nobody gets healed.


   III. Taking Time to Appreciate God’s Perfect Sacrifice

But those who rest in God’s perfect sacrifice for them will throw away their crutches and “rise with wings like eagles.” They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (see Isaiah 40:31) And those who allow the risen Christ to anoint their eyes with His salve will receive new vision to move forward.


Unfortunately, our busy lives allow little time for this. To tune out distractions can be hard. If you don’t set them aside in order to pray, however, you’re sure to lose the battle.


Before Jesus ascended (to heaven),

Because His word was ended,

He told his followers to wait –

But not on fate,


They weren’t to fear being late, but in obedience wait to be filled with the promised Holy Spirit.


It’s all about determining to believe God’s Word and meditating on God’s goodness shown through His only begotten Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.


Sometimes you must escape the noise before you can appreciate His sacrifice on your behalf and understand the power of Isaiah 53:5, which states:


“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”


“My house shall be called a house of prayer,” Jesus said. We are that house when we surrender our lives to Him.



Adventures in Spirit-filled Living (or the lack of it)

Clay Studybaker surveyed the sad remains of his would-be wheat field. He wanted to give up on it because his evil rototiller had run amok the day before and crashed into a tree. Clay hoped no one had seen the way he yelled, screamed, and kicked the blasted thing before flinging it into the town dump. “I know I got a little out of control,” he admitted to himself, “but I sure hope my face doesn’t end up on the nightly news.”

These morbid thoughts were quickly brushed aside as he watched a bedraggled man coming toward him. He looked like he was running from a mad bull. His suit was torn and tattered and his face covered with mud. He must have taken the path that ran through the nearby swamp and carelessly tripped over a log.

“Who is that klutz anyway?” Clay thought.

The ‘klutz’ turned out to be Clay’s best friend Clem. “Hide me, quick!” he yelled.

Clay shook his head. “I’ll try, messy guy.” He looked all around, but all he saw was dirt, grass, and a banged-up tree. The swamp looming in the distance looked spooky. Then he spotted it. “Run!”

An old, white shack with peeling paint awaited the arrival of two paranoid men. Like a bullet, Clem burst through the door and knocked it off its hinges.

With a sigh Clay picked the fallen board off his clumsy friend and set it back upright. “There. Now we’re safe. Any wolf that tries to crash this place will have to knock first.”

Clem’s mud-stained face grew white as a sheet. “No, don’t let the wolf get me! I don’t want to die.”

Clay handed him an old dish rag to wipe off the dirt. “There’s no need to get uptight. Just tell me who the culprit is and I’ll run him out of town – after I pray for him, of course.”

Clem plucked a burr from his hair. “But that’s what scared me – the prayer. It was the church’s grand opening and I thought I’d check it out. As was standing in line at the altar some big dude in overalls pushed me down flat on my back. My head hit the floor with a big bang. They called it ‘being filled with the Holy Ghost.’ Oh, what a headache! As soon as I heard the word ‘ghost,’ I ran out of there as fast as my two legs would carry me. I hope no ghosts followed me here.”

“No, Clem, there aren’t any ghosts with you. That’s just a figment of your imagination.”

“What figment?” Clem yelled. “Do you mean the thing that hijacked your rototiller? (I heard about it on the nightly news). You sure did throw a fit. I mean -”

“No!” Clay exclaimed, his cheeks red with chagrin. “Bad news reporters! If any of them ever show up at my doorstep, I swear I’ll – I mean, wow! I just noticed how swollen your head is.”

The bump was huge. Clay, who had never hugged anything in his life besides a tree (and that was just so he could measure it before chopping it down), threw his arms around his frazzled friend and wept. “The Jesus I know would never whack anybody over the head in order to fill them with the Holy Ghost,” he said. “The purpose of the Holy Ghost – or Holy Spirit, as I like to call Him, is not to spook you or to whack you upside the head, but to comfort you.” Clay went to the refrigerator and got an ice pack to put on Clem’s bump.

“But the pastor in that church said that sometimes Jesus needs to whip his sheep, like he whipped the money changers in the temple,” Clem said.

Clay shook his head. “The money changers in the story weren’t the sheep. They were like wolves, and wolves eat sheep. After Jesus kicked the wolves out of the temple, the sheep came to him and got healed. Jesus is nice, you see, unlike some people who go blabbing about others’ misfortunes over at the local television station. I wish I didn’t have to forgive whoever did it.”

Clem’s eye twitched. “WH – Why?”

“Because if I don’t forgive, I can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit. But oh, the nerve of that good-for-nothing bum who videotaped me. GRR, ERRR!”

Clem could take it no longer. “I’m sorry!” he exclaimed. “Please don’t be mad. I’m the one who filmed the rototiller thing and sent it to the news station.”

Clay’s eyes narrowed. “I knew it was you. You’re always spying on me, waiting for me to do some crazy stunt so you can make money off it.”

“But – but can you forgive me?” Clem asked.

“Of course,” Clay said. “But don’t ever do it again.”

“With the Holy Spirit’s help, I won’t,” Clem answered.

And they both lived happily ever after – well, for the most part, as long as they stayed filled with the Spirit.


Stop stepping on my toes. Remove your sandal from my face!

Where in this smelly court can someone catch a glimpse of grace?

The blind guy holds his ears. The deaf man’s hungry as a bear.

Does anybody have a scrap of bread they’d care to share?


This ragged guy is begging. He could use some brand-new clothes.

By clothes he doesn’t mean some burglar’s worn-out pantyhose.

But not even a burglar passing by will give him aid.

The crowd’s too packed, the lines too long. The ransom must be paid.


The sounds of bleating sheep and lowing cattle can be heard.

A dove is cooing sadly. I feel sorry for the bird.

Amid the shouts and clanging coins, I fear my plight is sealed.

Inside this zoo there’s no room for the lame man to be healed.


The less well-off among us have been lost among the noise.

Beset by such frustration, how can we maintain our poise?

But what is this? I see a man wielding a whip of cords.

He’s knocking down the tables of those money-changing lords.


“Stop stealing from My people in the name of sacrifice!

This court is meant to be a house of prayer, not merchandise!”

His actions who can fathom as he chases them away?

I must admit that this has been an interesting day.


The dust has cleared. Now finally, it seems I’ll get my chance.

The Master’s looking my way. Slowly toward him I advance.

Just two blind men ahead of me, and now I’m getting healed.

With no pain to distract me, I see God’s goodness revealed.


It truly is amazing! But then, what can God not do

If we will set aside the problems over which we stew,

and let him cast the “money-changers” out of our own house,

Instead of blaming some old family friend, burglar or spouse?